No More Perfect Mentors

Do you think you need to wait until your life is perfect before you become a mentor?  I recently spoke at a retreat where I was struck with the age diversity in the group.  There were teens, young adult single women, new moms with their babies, along with middle-aged and older women. I was blessed with intergenerational mentoring in my family of origin, but not everyone has that benefit. My Mama (pictured with four of her daughters and a niece) was a godly mentor to us.

At the retreat I heard a testimonial by a young woman named Jordyn Baker and it impacted me greatly.  Here’s what she said: “I spent a large portion of my life believing there was no place for me in what seemed to be cookie-cutter Christianity. To me, it appeared that Christianity was full of perfect women who had life figured out. With all the effort in the world I couldn’t relate to such a thing. It’s by the grace of God I came across Candelaria Bradbury. If there was some sort of rule about keeping up an image or maintaining a facade, Cande missed the memo. Vulnerability is her gift and because she and her family invited me into their unfiltered, messy, beautiful lives, I came to understand that I not only had a place in Christianity, but there was no other place I’d rather be than in the Kingdom of God.”

Jordyn continued:  “We live in a society that doesn’t foster intergenerational relationships. Our culture has permitted only a narrow window of perceived importance—roughly spanning the ages of 17 to 30, and this makes me so sad. As believers, it’s vital that we recognize the importance of intergenerational relationships, and that we deny the temptation to hide our fears and insecurities behind the masks of ‘perfect.’  Today a panel of women talked about relationships with younger women. One mentioned that she felt under-qualified because she didn’t have Snapchat, didn’t look a certain way, and didn’t feel ‘cool enough.’ I want to speak to that.”

She challenged us with these words:  “We need you. We do not need to come to your perfectly clean home for a three-course meal and crafted conversation. Everything fed to us in today’s society is filtered and perfected. We don’t need anymore of that nonsense by which to measure ourselves.

We need:

—to help prepare a meal with you

—to stop by unannounced and help you fold socks

—to go grocery shopping with you

—to be invited into your real lives—unfiltered.

The truth is—it’s not in spite of your “lack of Snapchat” or “lack of perfected bodies” (or however you manage to disqualify yourself) that we need you—it is because of those things! We don’t need  you to be like us!

We need you to be:

—brave and confident

—adventurous

—vulnerable

—comfortable in your own skin”

Then Jordyn wrapped up her plea with:  “We need you to tell us that you never really ‘have it all together’ and that life is more about finding God’s beauty and love in the journey than it is about becoming some perfect individual. We need you to show us what it looks like to be real women.  Why?  So that when we are married with kids and we go a whole day in our pajamas without putting on a bra, or when we are thirty and have no husband and nothing figured out—we can have an actual, physical reference to the fact that there is no such thing as ‘figured out’ or ‘perfect.’  And that even in those times we can know that we are completely lovable and normal.  Without your authenticity our example is in the hands of liars.”

From Carol:  Jordyn has inspired me to be more transparent in my relationships.  How about you?  Go to www.CarolKent.org and comment on these questions.  What makes a good mentor?  What has your experience been?  What holds you back from accepting the opportunity to mentor?  What is your response to this honest message from Jordyn Baker?  Let’s start a movement—no more perfect mentors!

 

15 comments to No More Perfect Mentors

  • Amen, Jordyn! So grateful that I had mentors like that as a new believer and pray that at 50+ I can be that to those around me. Thanks, Carol, for sharing.

  • Cynthia Wilkerson

    This was such an insightful article. Thank you. I have posted this on my FB page in hopes that many women of all ages will read it.
    Thank you.

  • Really, there is no new information here, but it’s sad that it has to be said again, and so plainly. In a world of means to be more social, it’s really become less personal and transparent. Perfection does not make the man, but rather, imperfection opens doors for friendship and mentoring. Awesome, awesome post!!

  • Lyn Wineland

    I would love to have a mentoring relationship with a young woman but it seems that they aren’t interested in hanging out with an old woman.

    • Susan

      It would be nice to hear from the young woman who wrote the article regarding older women approaching younger women with the possibility of mentoring them. It’s most likely going to be someone that you already have established a relationship with.

  • Coni

    I agree! It is because of our imperfections, trials
    and errors that we can be good mentors! When we
    share our overcomings and testimonies that give witness
    to a GooD God, we first admit weakness & shortcomings in
    our own individual ability.
    This is so powerful! It not only re-blesses the one sharing
    it may be the exact comfort and encouragement the hearer
    needed to breakthrough and overcome also. I remind myself
    often not to fear sharing my struggles and that my confident vulnerability never returns void.

  • Carol

    Young gals tend to think of older women as silly old people who make no sense. To mentor would be such a blessing but I find the younger ones are not interested in bridging the gap. I feel totally ignored by them. Those of us who have something to offer are bypassed because we aren’t modern in our thinking. How do we teach the younger when they aren’t interested?

    • Susan

      I think the key is to find the person you “click” with. Perhaps all young women in your church
      would’nt welcome mentors a lot older than they are, however some most likely would. Perhaps someone in your neighborhood?

  • Susan G.

    Thanks for this! If we listen to His voice He will always guide us to where we are to go, who we are to speak to (mentor?). We just need to ask Him. He speaks to us, if we will only listen.

  • Mentoring is a huge part of my life—I have one and I am one. I love how I feel free to share my junk with both! Sometimes my mistakes make for a great teaching opportunity! Oh, how we all need grace upon grace!

  • As a youngish mother of two energetic grade school boys, I was helped so much by a lovely older woman who understood my parenting struggles as well as my desire to know Christ better. She really “got me” and I wanted to be more like her. I think that every mentoring relationship has to start at that place. The place of mutual respect and genuine love for each other. Since those early days of ministry I have tried to set up mentoring connections in our women’s ministry. Unfortunately, most of them were short-lived at best. Seems to me that it has to be a natural spiritual thing that happens best when both mentor and mentee are open, thoughtful, and full of the fruit of gentleness. Once established they are the most fruit filled, heaven blessed, thoroughly biblical ministries that I’ve seen this side of heaven. The basis of course is scriptural from Titus 2. I learned so much from several mentors through the years including how to study the Bible, hang wallpaper, make bread, and garden organically. And I have continued to practice these disciplines to this day. Except for the gardening thing , that is!

  • Thanks for always sharing great stuff! Thanks for giving me permission to be real!

  • Diana J. Richert

    Great insight from Jordyn! I fear many of us women who are of more mature age (myself being a “young 62”) do not humble ourselves nor take off our “masks” when we are at Church, etc. We need to be more open to others, laugh with the younger gals, share our life experiences with them, and invite them to share with us without being critical. We are saved by God’s amazing grace, we walk this journey together by His amazing grace, and we need to encourage each other women with this truly amazing grace HE has provided!

  • Lois Armitage

    Two thoughts come to mind immediately. My college resident advisor who in a nightly devetional time some 45 years ago said something like “the more I get to know our Lord, the more I realize there are always deeper places to go with Him” like the levels on an old arcade video game. Each discovery opens new places and more to learn .

    Second, I am reminded of a conversation with a friend, like myself, married with small children, husband training in seminary. We had know each for maybe 8 years. Over a meal I mentioned I was a “soap-a-Holic” — That since a young girl, I had trouble with paying too much attention to soap operas in the afternoon. My rescue was one day when my husband came in and asked what the story was. . As I wove the sorted tale of cheating and lies, I WAS appalled with my cheering for the character to sin, and my own sin was loudly before my face. Hoping the characters would “get together” in sin!

    Here’s the point My friend said, ” I had no idea, I’ve struggled with that, too, for years.”

    Transparent about our challenge over which we are experiencing victory, can help a fellow traveler. Humility to “confess my fault to another” may help rescue one bound to sin. Transparent about where I am failing can bring another believer along side to pray and remind me of the power of a HIS Resurrection, and the fellowship if His suffering- that victory is really possible.

    Love is patient, kind, does not envy, boast, is not. PROUD…

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